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Don't Be a Kanye: How to Restrict In-App Purchases

by Keith Wagstaff /

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Even Kanye West has trouble keeping his kid away from in-app purchases. On Friday, the hip-hop star tweeted his frustration with games that charge users real money for virtual items.

"F*** any game company that puts in-app purchases on kids games!!!" he wrote in a separate tweet, adding in another that "if a game is made for a 2 year old, just allow them to have fun and give the parents a break."

Last year, Google was forced to pay $19 million to parents whose kids made unauthorized in-app purchases. Apple and Amazon have faced criticism and lawsuits over the same issue.

(Ironically, Kanye's wife, Kim Kardashian West, was forced to defend the in-app purchases in her mobile game "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" last year, telling parents that they should "be responsible" to prevent unwanted charges.)

If a kid can rack up enough charges to bother a multimillionaire, what hope do ordinary parents have? Turns out there are several ways to protect yourself.

For iPhone Users

Got an iPad or iPhone? Go to "Settings," and then "General" and "Restrictions." From there, parents can hit "Enable Restrictions" and turn off all in-app purchases.

They can also go into their iTunes settings and require passwords for every in-app purchase.

Another option: kids over the age of 13 can get an iTunes allowance. Parents simply put $10 to $50 in their child's account, and when that money runs out, junior can't make anymore purchases. The money carries over from one month to the next, so kids don't need to feel pressured to spend all of their allowance in 30 days.

For Android Users

Simply go into "Settings" in the Google Play Store and hit "Require authentication for purchases." Parents can then choose to require a password for every purchase made.

For Amazon users

Parents who own a Fire HD tablet or, for some reason, a Fire Phone can open the Amazon Appstore app, tap "Settings" and then turn the "In-App Purchasing" option off.

They can also go to "Parental Controls" in the "Settings" menu and set it so that every purchase requires a user to enter their Amazon password.

Related: Toughen Up Your Critical Passwords in 4 Easy Steps

For Everyone

Obviously, passwords only work when your kid doesn't know them, so try to change them often and make them difficult to guess.

Parents can also buy devices made specifically for children. LeapFrog, which makes a variety of tablets, bans in-app purchases completely.

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